Wheat Pete’s Word, Apr 24: Talking tillage, N management in wet conditions, and extreme weather

Agriculture is the art of applying the science — this is definitely the case when it comes to figuring out how few tillage passages are enough and if the quest for zero is actually the goal.

As part of this week’s edition of Wheat Pete’s Word, host Peter Johnson discusses the importance of no-till and how that works with heavy corn residue, nitrogen application in very wet environments, critical temperatures for wheat, and much more, including answers to your questions on winter canola and the effects of drought on wheat.

Have a question you’d like Wheat Pete to address or some field results to send in? Agree/disagree with something he’s said? Leave him a message at 1-888-746-3311, send him a tweet (@wheatpete), or email him at [email protected].


  • It’s National Soil Conservation week!
  • When it comes to crop rotation, crop diversity and leaving residue, it’s all good
  • The more tillage that you do the less diversity that you have in your soil
  • Do less tillage!
  • What happens when you have heavy corn residue? How does no-till soybeans work?
  • No-till soybeans can work, but soil is going to be cooler
  • Getting the crop out of the ground early and getting a lot of biomass before the plant starts to flower the better the yield is going to be
  • 80% of erosion happens during the non-growing months (November to March)
  • A single pass of shallow surface tillage to bury some of the corn residue and get some black dirt might not be a bad idea
  • Do the trial, try some no-till. If you can get 3-4 bushels by one pass it will more than pay for the one pass
  • If you’re going to do tillage do as little as possible and keep it into the spring if you can
  • Mercedes is the only variety of winter canola that we know of that won’t bolt in the fall
    • Mercedes is only registered in Ontario, if grown in another province it goes into the lowest quality pool as an unregistered variety
  • Philippines has approved Golden Rice in their country, however the courts in the Philippines have blocked the use of Golden Rice
  • New York State, Ohio is wet and has been saturated all through March and April, there is still water laying on the ground
  • Most of the storm systems are hitting the south edge of the Great Lakes
  • Wheat in central Kansas has headed out and they have received no more than 1/2 inch or 15 mm of rainfall in the last 117 days
  • Critical period for yield in wheat is 14 days before heading to 10 days after heading
  • Without moisture you will see a lot of floret abortion at the spikelets and end up with less seeds per head
  • How long can wheat tolerate not getting nitrogen in wet conditions?
  • Need to get the nitrogen there by growth stage 32
  • Never once did delaying nitrogen application to growth stage 32, even on advanced wheat, in the trials increase yield, mostly didn’t lose much yield
  • Wheat needs nitrogen in the rapid uptake phase at 3lbs/acre/day, with Pure Yield ( coated urea) even the thinnest coating is a 30 day delay to the nitrogen becoming available
  • Need to look at the stage of the crop for nitrogen application, not the calendar
  • Because of how warm the winter has been we can probably count on more of the nitrogen from the organic portion of manure applied in the fall to be available, up to 10%
  • Only way to know for sure is a pre-side-dress nitrate test ahead of the corn crop
  • In plots done by growers, putting on early nitrogen (not more than 50lbs) is the best looking wheat crop seen in a decade
  • In another warm February, a shot of sulphur and nitrogen in March might be a good idea
  • Critical temperature in the literature for wheat is -4.5c at the jointing stage
  • Before the jointing stage the critical temperature is -10c and it doesn’t go immediately from -10 to -5
  • The head is close to the soil and the soil has some heat
  • Yellow wheat in the hollows is wet feet, in order for wheat to pick up the nitrogen it needs to be able to respire and with saturated soil there is no oxygen
  • The nitrate moves in the water to the roots, however with saturated soil there is no water movement
  • With a lot of saturation the roots will die and the root tips do the majority of nutrient uptake
  • When it comes to the nitrogen rate on triticale it matters a lot how much manure is in the history
  • Yield is one thing, but protein content is another, if you want 20% + protein crop you will need a lot of nitrogen on triticale
  • 28% cheaper than urea in corn program if switch from urea to 28% what are the ramifications?
  • In a weed and feed if you go up to 10 gallons of 28% with round-up you still get efficacy on round-up
  • It’s like streaming nitrogen on wheat, if you keep your streaming rate down to 10 or 15 gallons rarely see significant burn on the wheat
  • If you’re going to do 20 gallons you cannot put round-up in
  • If you stabilize only 50% is urea and that is primarily what you’re stabilizing so you’re only trying to save half
  • If soil surface is damp and it’s sunny and windy then it’s worth stabilizing
  • If soil surface is dry and it’s cool, and if there is rain in the forecast then it’s not worth stabilizing
  • Conventional vs strip-till – conventional it can be dry on the surface and your risk of volatization drops as there is no moisture
  • With strip-till there is likely more moisture so there is more likely to be loss, however study by Brant County showed more loss on convention tillage than with no-till
  • Think twice, act once, and be safe!

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